NASA’s 2016 budget proposal has funding to create a flagship Europa mission. In 2015, NASA received $100 million from Congress to begin preliminary work on such a mission, but was missing the commitment to further funding for a period long enough to plan a mission. NASA now has another $255 million budgeted over the next 5 years. NASA can now fully develop the Europa mission.
The mission will probably involve a spacecraft orbiting Jupiter and making multiple fly-bys of Europa, rather than landing on or orbiting Europa itself. This will make the mission much cheaper and safer, as Europa sits in a harsh radiation environment that can be dangerous for spacecraft. NASA will choose instruments for the spacecraft in spring this year, and aims for a launch date in the mid-2020s.
SOURCES – NASA, New Scientist
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